August 16, 2017
Slices of Stories
Have you ever wondered about the stories of people you barely touch? I do. Each time I see a person or group of people my brain asks that question and sometimes I theorize about the answer.
A biker in full regalia changing a tire on the sidewalk, a child standing in a full school bus with both arms protruding from the open window, a pair of women talking with their hands in the car next to you at the traffic light, a tall, thin girl crossing a 6 lane roadway with a drink in her hand; what are their stories?
These were all people I passed just on a twelve-minute ride this morning. All bits of five full vibrant life stories and I eavesdropped on a few seconds of each.
Consider now: I’m at a park bench. It’s early morning, school busses transporting children are still flying by the three roads that surround the park. A mother and her toddler enter the park, they are the only ones besides me. He laughs and runs free. Mother checks out the surroundings from behind dark sunglasses – the same thing I do when I enter new surroundings. Mother pushes him on the toddler swing as he smiles and points out squirrels and birds in the overhanging trees.
My mind asks me; what is their story? I can describe them in detail. I observe tiny things like how many keys dangle from her keyclip over her back right pocket, he is wearing the easy-slip-on canvas shoes I love (even in navy blue, my favorite color), her blonde hair is darkening at the base (maybe she dyed it blonde about six months ago or it’s summer-kissed) and twisted up in a becoming bun atop her head (It could be called a “messy bun” but it looks good on her), he has a cowlick (maybe he took a nap in the carseat).
It sounds weird, doesn’t it? This is the overworking mind of a writer. I only glanced at them twice, once when they entered and once when he squealed at a bird or squirrel, yet I imagine an entire storyline connected to them just from those glances. Odd. I’m probably wrong on all counts. My mind has been doing this as far back as I can remember. I see people and write sketches about them. Many of these character sketches based on a 2-second glance have become bit parts in various stories. I trained myself not to believe my assumptions and imaginative storylines about the people I meet. (That doesn’t mean my brain doesn’t still analyze and make storylines!) I allow people to fill in their own story as I get to know them. I had to teach myself not to judge others by what my perceptions of them are. As I learned more about people, took more psychology classes, watched lives unfold, and lived my own life, my assumptions came truer to reality; but I still don’t judge others by them.
It does help me get inspiration for story characters, though. So, that’s just a glimpse into the mind of a writer.
I wonder what goes through the minds of the mother and toddler as they catch a glimpse of this woman sitting cross-legged on a huge picnic table by herself with keys, business cards, a banana peel, and a phone lying in front of her and tapping away like a diesel locomotive on a not-so-silent laptop keyboard. What do they perceive of their observation of a slice of my life’s story?
Thanks for reading!
Type at you next time…